Tips for the solo traveler

I have traveled across Africa on my own for 6 months and most people who have contacted me have been wondering how I did it. So today I thought to share with you some tips on wanderlusting solo.

Firstly, I think it is very important to note that when traveling DO NOT expect the luxury and comfort you have when you are at home. Traveling does not teach you how to think out of the box, it is imperative that you think as if there is no box… because there is no box.

You need to make peace loneliness. You might not feel lonely during the day when you are with all other travellers but when you jump into your bed at the end of the day, that loneliness monster will sure creep up from under the bed and come to you for cuddles.
Although after a while, you are too intimidating for the monster and he won’t be visiting you anymore, I best describe this stage of your life as being comfortable with your best friend – You.
You will never truly learn how to be comfortable with yourself until you have travelled alone, in a foreign country and you have no one by your side but yourself.

Learn from my mistakes, always travel with 2 bank cards. They are they are to be kept separately for my at all times. Before traveling contact your bank in writing and  also with phone calls. Notify them that you will be traveling. List the countries you will visit as well. This is to prevent your card from being blocked. Just before traveling, contact your bank again and remind them. You can never be too safe.

Travel with 2 passports. This is something I never thought of until I realized had I had 2 passports, I wouldn’t have stayed in Kenya for an extra 3 weeks waiting for visas. I could have gotten my Sudanese visas while my other passport was at the Egypt embassy for my Egyptian Visa.

Unless you are traveling on a 5 star budget, understand that there will be almost no privacy.
At a backpackers or when couchsurfing. You will not have much privacy.

I used to get accommodation. But if your accommodation is already sorted, you can still use couchsurfing to connect with locals who will meet up with you and take you out and about and showing you around. This is fantastic for making friends.
Use social media such as Facebook to update your friends and family on what is happening. Many times when I was just updating my friends and family, a friend was able to connect me to their friend wherever I was and I was not so alone anymore.

When traveling and you decide to make plans to the last detail, please understand this- the universe laughs at you as it messes up your plans for your own good. There is no fun in traveling with a timetable, this is not high school. Here you go with the flow.
You will meet locals who will advise on something that might interest you, you will meet other travellers who will probably know something that you don’t… Go with the flow and just have fun with it. My best days were spent hijacking other peoples plans or just forgetting the plan for the day and just snorkelling to my hearts content.

Making friends when traveling on a budget is very simple.  Most people are traveling alone and some might be lucky enough to have a ffrinds that they are able to travel with. Everyone is trying to make friends, everyone wants to have a conversation. They want to know about you, where you are from, what brings you to where you are, how long you have been traveling, where are you off to next and how much alcohol your system can handle and if it can be tested. Yes, most conversation will be the same but I promise you will never get bored of this same old conversation.
Understand that all solo wanderers are like stray dogs, we all go around collecting each other to build a family for that time being. Our family units might not be together for long but we will always be family no matter where in the world we all go. The best part is, you can always have an open ended invite to visit your family in their side of the world and you will always be welcome.

Very important will be your safety. I have found that I was always safe in the African countries that I have travelled. When people realised that I was alone, their first instinct was to protect me.  Although I always felt safe, this did not mean I had to be careless and let down my guard. Always guard your possessions. And always be on the lookout for yourself. Pepper spray was a good idea till I learned that it is illegal weapon to have in most African countries, although you can have an all-natural pepper spray.

Lastly, Be comfortable with the uncomfortable. Today I laugh about not bathing for 3 days in Sudan, those vicious bedbugs… and funny enough, I miss having to deal with those kinds of challenges in my life.

Anxiety is normal for a while, just like loneliness…

Most of us do not have friends who love traveling as much as we do, that doesn’t mean you can’t get up and go on your own. The beauty of solo travels is that you dont have to deal with a companion who probably wont enjoy what you want to do. You dont have to consult anyone about the things that you want to do.
The most important lesson I learned from my travels is this – There is no value that a friend can add to my life that I can’t add to my life myself.

Happy wandering.